The improved tools, Windows XP Application Compatibility Toolkit 2.6 and the Line Security Analyser, are part of the company's New Desktop Deployment Portal website.
"Application compatibility is one of the primary concerns of enterprises currently evaluating the deployment of Windows XP," said Michael Silver, vice-president and research director at analyst Gartner. "It is not uncommon for enterprises to have hundreds or even thousands of applications to test for compatibility before deploying a new operating system," he said.
"We are turning the crank faster on a series of deployment tools as well as pulling together a lot of information users can find in one place on the website. The improvements to the Security Analyser help it check for Exchange 5.5 and Windows Media Code and to pick up on changes made by [Windows XP] Service Pack 1,'' said Rogers Weed, Microsoft's corporate vice-president in charge of Windows product management.
Microsoft is also planning to make the website-based tools available through a CD-Rom called the Desktop Deployment Customer Toolkit CD.
Microsoft hopes the compatibility testing it did in preparation for the release of Windows NT code to users will cut down on the testing users will have to do with Windows XP, he added.
"Application compatibility testing is a major step in deployment for a lot of enterprise users. But what some people may not realise is the huge amount of testing we had to do on XP in order to release the NT code base to a broad set of users. That actually generated a lot of benefit for line of business apps and enterprise issues as well," Weed said.
In an attempt to back up that claim, Microsoft officials pointed to a study recently released by BearingPoint, in which Microsoft had evaluated nine companies with more than 800 applications using the toolkit. Results of the study showed that Windows XP was compatible with about 95% of applications already deployed.
Microsoft's next step, according to Weed, will be to improve the tool's ability to check an entire network for all existing applications and to pull them into a central database where they can be checked against Microsoft's own central database of all the applications that the company has ever analysed.